Fuel’s The Hartlepool Monkey sails in to Liverpool this Friday for a two night stay.
The production, in association with Stratford Circus Arts Centre – and with puppetry by Gyre & Gimble (original puppeteers on War Horse), is billed as “an adventure story for sea dogs and landlubbers” alike and is based on a slice of English folklore from Napoleonic times.
A French ship runs aground off the coast of England. Only a cabin girl and the ship’s mascot, chimpanzee, survive and make it to shore. But the townsfolk mistake the monkey, in its military uniform, for a spy, and condemn him to a life-or-death trial. What will the verdict be – and can the local children save the day?
While writer Carl Grose’s play centres around a 200-year-old legend, the story of the Hartlepool Monkey also has contemporary resonances.
Finn Caldwell from Gyre & Gimble explains: “After we looked more into the legend and started working on the project, it really became clear to us how relevant the themes are in terms of the current world situation.
“The ‘us and them’ rhetoric of the story is definitely (unfortunately) apparent in some parts of the world at the moment.”
As for the puppetry itself, he adds: “Because puppetry communicates non-verbally, everyone can understand and take something away from the production. So, an adult may well be experiencing something more complex, whilst a child is simultaneously being entertained by the more face-value visuals stage.”
The Hartlepool Monkey is at the Unity Theatre on November 17-18 and is aimed at theatregoers aged 10 and over. Tickets from the website HERE